P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


DSGMC gets jolt
Panel chief joins SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 16
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) received a major jolt today when its Dharam Prachar Committee (DPC) chairman Tarsem Singh joined the Prachar Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

Talking to newspersons, Tarsem said he had resigned from the chairmanship of the committee because of the dictatorial attitude of the Sarna brothers. He said a number of decisions taken by the Delhi committee led to differences among its members. The representatives of weaker sections were treated like slaves.

“The Sarna brothers were playing into the hands of those who were misusing the Delhi committee’s funds for promoting their personal interests”, he claimed.

He said though there was no interference by the Sarna brothers in the working of the DPC, it was not working for the promotion of the Sikh culture and religion. The DSGMC was coming close to the Congress.

Refuting the allegations of Tarsem, DSGMC president Harvinder Singh Sarna, told The Tribune that he (Tarsem) was not chairman of the DPC and had resigned from the chairmanship of a school committee. He alleged that Tarsem had resigned from the committee at the instance of SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, who was enticing members to take control of the management of the DSGMC.


Sarna given clean chit
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 16
In a significant development, Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti gave a clean chit to DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna in the Dera Sacha Sauda controversy. While defending Sarna, Vedanti said that he could not be summoned to the Akal Takht for having met Dera Sacha Sauda chief on the basis of media reports.

The demand to summon Sarna to the Akal Takht had been raised by various Sikh organisations, which had objected to his having met the dera chief.

Vedanti, who was here to attend a ‘Gurmat Chetna Camp’ organised by the SGPC, stated that he would not take cognisance of media reports that Sarna had met the dera chief. He said that only if Sarna admitted before the takht that he had met the dera chief, an explanation could be sought from him.

He said that the Khalsa Action Committee was coming up with its own programmes without taking the takht into confidence. Contradicting the statement issued by SGPC chief Avtar Singh that birs could only be given to those who had faith in Guru Granth Sahib and not to those who believed in a dera chief, the Akal Takht Jathedar said that the takht had not debarred anyone from carrying the birs, provided that the Sikh maryada was not violated.


SGPC receives flak

Barnala, July 16
Former MP and advocate Raj Dev Singh Khalsa criticised the SGPC in failing to make any city in the state tobacco-free, despite the fact that three major takhts - Anandpur Sahib, Amritsar and Damdama Sahib - of the Sikhs are situated in the state.

Talking to press reporters here today, he said the SGPC had crores of rupees in its budget to tackle this issue, but had failed to create awareness among Sikh youths to abandon the use of tobacco which is the foremost principle of Sikhism. — OC


14-day judicial remand for Chahal, aide
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
The chief judicial magistrate here today remanded B. I. S. Chahal and his alleged aide Baldev Singh Dhillon in 14 days’ judicial custody. The accused were presented in the court at about 4 pm today as the term of their police remand expired.

The prosecution pleaded for seven days’ additional police remand for Chahal and Dhillon. They alleged that during the three-day remand of the accused, they had recovered gold ornaments weighing 3 kg and 190 gm, worth Rs 18 lakh, from a bank locker of Chahal.

His house at Tawakli Morr at Patiala was also being assessed and Chahal was being asked to provide information regarding the luxuries found there. During his police remand, Chahal said he invested Rs 55 lakh in transport owned by Baldev Singh Sandhu.

The prosecution also alleged that Baldev Singh Sandhu’s business grew exponentially after the Congress came to power in the state in 2002. To find out the reasons for unexplained growth in his business and the alleged interests of Chahal in it, the prosecution demanded additional police remand of both the accused.

The defence counsel in the case, NPS Waraich, however, pleaded that he was taken along by Vigilance officials while carrying out searches of Chahal’s bank locker or his house. He also alleged that the Vigilance officials tried to pressurise a local jeweller to evaluate the worth of the jewellery recovered from the locker of Chahal at Rs 30 lakh.

He also pleaded that the Vigilance had been keeping Chahal under custody for more than a month now on one pretext or the other. If they had to recover anything from him, one month was more than enough. Regarding Chahal’s house at Patiala, he pleaded that there was nothing hidden about it as searches had been carried out there thrice by the Vigilance.

Regarding the recovery of gold ornaments, he pleaded that it was ancestral property of the family that is owned by Chahal’s wife and daughter. It had also been declared in income tax returns.

The defence also pleaded that Chahal had bought a petrol pump and 38 acres of land in Bathinda after raising a loan from the bank.

After arguments, the judge turned down the Vigilance plea for additional police remand. Both the accused were sent into judicial custody.

Meanwhile, Chahal once again alleged that he was tortured while he was in police custody. He said, “You can see judge sahib, I have lost weight due to torture in police custody”.

Amarinder’s bail plea hearing to continue today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
A prolonged debate on points of law regarding the grant of bail, marked by Justice Ranjit Singh’s incisive queries, dominated the hearing on former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s anticipatory bail plea today.

The case had been referred back to the Punjab and Haryana High Court by the Supreme Court, which had dismissed the SLP filed by Punjab seeking the cancellation of bail to Amarinder. Importantly, the apex court had also ordered that the high court should refer to the directions given by it in the Adi Dharan Dass case.

The Adi Dharan Dass judgement by the apex court became the fulcrum of debate between Justice Ranjit Singh and the petitioner (Amarinder’s counsel), which enlivened the court room.

The step-by-step approach of Justice Ranjit Singh in elucidating various apex court judgements on the grant of bail, anticipatory or otherwise, and continuous queries to the petitioner’s counsel brought focus on various law points involved.

Importantly, the hearing will continue tomorrow.

“We are on a point as to whether the SC order on the SLP (to follow Adi Dharan Dass) will be binding on me. Whether the high court can go out of the purview of this SC order?” the judge asked Amarinder’s counsel.

The apex court judgements, extensively quoted during the hearing, were Salauddin case, Sunita Devi case, Adi Dharan Dass case, K.L. Verma case and Gurbax Singh Sibia case.

The petitioner’s counsel stressed that according to the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, there could be no restriction on the duration of the bail. He further stressed that the said judgment by the Constitution Bench had not been overruled yet.

After discussing law points for long, the judge sought the counsel’s comments on the merits of the case. The counsel alleged that the whole case was guided by “political animus”. He referred to the Shingani Commission of 1971, at which the judge said that the Shingani Commission was too remote to have bearings on the case.

“The entire case is based upon the statement of co-accused Chetan Gupta. The said statement was made before the Vigilance Bureau and has not been independently corroborated. Also, the pen drive is not admissible as evidence,” the petitioner’s counsel averred.

Importantly, the judge asked Punjab advocate-general H.S. Mattewal if the petitioner had supplied all documents required by the Vigilance for interrogation. Mattewal said no documents had been supplied according to the information given by the Vigilance SSP, Kanwarjit Singh.The SSP was present in the court. An affidavit by the SSP was also filed today in which he had stated that Amarinder was not cooperating in investigation.

The petitioner’s counsel strongly denied that no documents had been supplied and said a copy of the recovery memo was with him. At this, the judge asked him to place the recovery memo on record.

Also, there was further debate on the supply of documents and self-incrimination.

The documents were sought by the bureau as a precondition to having no objection to Amarinder’s plea seeking court’s nod to visit the UK.


Amarinder returns home quietly from UK
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reached here quietly from Delhi today evening.

Sources close to him said after returning from London he quietly with a few trusted lieutenants, including Youth Congress president Vijay Inder Singla reached Patiala today evening.

He went indoors after retuning and refused to take phone calls. Congress MLAs, who used to gather to welcome him, were missing this time. Sources added he spent some time planning for tomorrow’s show of strength for his son Raninder Singh, who is to join investigation in the city centre scam.

The Youth Congress has planned to gather behind Raninder Singh son of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Raninder Singh is to present himself before the Vigilance Bureau at Ludhiana tomorrow for questioning in the scam case.

Sources said he would proceed to Ludhiana tomorrow morning with a cavalcade of Youth Congress workers who had been conveyed the message to be present along with Raninder Singh tomorrow morning.

Telephonic messages were conveyed to Congress workers from Patiala to be present in the rally for Raninder Singh tomorrow.

Raninder had missed his date with the Vigilance officials in the case. The vigilance officials had informed the court that Raninder was not cooperating.


Dullo stands up for Amarinder

Ludhiana, July 16
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Shamsher Singh Dullo has said the party will not allow victimisation against former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at any cost and they will resist all attempts to arrest the latter.

Addressing a press conference after presiding over a meeting of party leaders at the local Congress Bhawan here today, Dullo alleged that the SAD-BJP government had let loose a reign of terror on its political opponents. A number of Congress workers had been victimised. One of them died in police custody and no FIR had been registered.

The PCC president said Amarinder Singh would campaign for the party in the corporation elections.

Reiterating his stand on the Dera Sacha Sauda issue, Dullo asked, “How many times do they want the dera chief to apologise?” He appealed to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Akal Takht jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to “have mercy on people of the state and not let tempers go high”.

He claimed there was widespread fear and apprehension among people that the situation was being deliberately allowed to go out of control. It was just because the dera did not support the Akalis. However, Dullo hastened to add, the dera did support Badal in his Lambi Assembly segment. Otherwise he would not have been able to win.

The PCC president said, “I have reliable information that Badal struck a deal with the dera under which he assured them (the dera people) that he would help Harminder Jassi to win from Bathinda if they supported him in Lambi”. — TNS


High Court
Raninder’s bail plea adjourned to July 24
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The Division Bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Rajive Bhalla today issued notice of motion to Punjab for July 24 on a bail plea by Capt Amarinder Singh’s son Raninder. Amarinder’s kin Raminder was the co-petitioner.

The petition, filed under Article 226 of the Constitution, sought protection against arrest by any state government agency, Vigilance, Punjab Police or any other, for Raninder and Raminder.

The petitioners averred that the they apprehended implication in a false case by the government, “which was being guided by political vendetta”. They further averred that their family was being hounded by the government, which wanted to settle scores and tarnish their reputation.

Dimpa torture case

The Division Bench of Justice P.Sathasivam and Justice Rajive Bhalla today adjourned to July 30 the hearing on former Beas MLA Jasbir Singh Dimpa’s torture case. The court had taken suo motu notice of media reports alleging that Dimpa had been tortured by the Punjab Police and serious injuries were inflicted on him.

The police had stated that Dimpa had tried to commit suicide and registered a case against him. Incidentally, the medico-legal report of Dimpa, according to a Tribune report, had mentioned that Dimpa’s injuries had been inflicted by a blunt weapon and appeared not to be self-inflicted.

Chahal’s plea adjourned

The court of Justice Uma Nath Singh today adjourned the hearing on the regular plea by B.I.S. Chahal, media advisor to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, to July 23. The adjournment was granted following a request by petitioner’s counsel.

Chahal is seeking regular bail in the land grab case (also known as attempt-to-murder case) registered against him by the Ludhiana police. He has averred in the petition that the case was “mala fide and aimed at different purpose”.


Info commissioners to visit dist headquarters
Justice at doorstep

Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
The Punjab information commission will provide justice to applicants at their doorsteps. The state information commissioners will go to the district headquarters twice a month to give on-the-spot decisions on complaints of residents against denial of information by information officers.

Chief information commissioner Rajan Kayshap said this while talking to The Tribune here today. He along with state information commissioner Ravi Singh was here to hold a meeting of the district information officers of various departments. They also held a hearing at the local circuit house and disposed of 10 cases.

Kayshap said a review of the commission’s working revealed that many people failed to travel to the state capital to contest their claims for information. So, state information commissioners, including him, had decided to hold courts at the district headquarters.

At present there were nine state information commissioners. Out of them just five had staff. Those without staff could carry on with their court work at district headquarters only after they were provided staff.

In view of the increasing work at the commission, the government had been requested to form at least nine Benches of state information commissioners for which nine additional state information commissioners were required.

He also said the government had agreed to the proposal of the commission to open information centres at all Suvidha centres at district headquarters in the state. The applicants in future would be able to submit their applications for information at the Suvidha centres.

He further said that the commission received 2,536 complaints, out of which 1,338 complaints had been settled. Twentyfour officers who had denied information had been penalised. Strictures had also been passed against the officers who had denied information. That would mean they would be denied promotion benefits for dereliction of duty.

About 40 per cent of the cases coming to the commission were of a personal nature. Lack of awareness and training in responding to queries of citizens had been identified as major handicaps in effective implementation of the Act.

He also said the local government, education, urban development and police were four departments against which maximum complaints regarding not providing information on time had been received by the commission.


Civic Body Elections
SAD, BJP allocate seats
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The BJP will contest 35 seats in the elections to the municipal corporation of Jalandhar. It will contest almost an equal number of seats in the municipal corporation in Amritsar. The remaining seats in both corporations will be contested by the SAD.

Both parties — the SAD and the BJP — will contest the elections jointly.

In Patiala, the SAD will be the dominant player. In that city, the SAD will put up its candidates in 35 seats and 15 seats will be contested by the BJP, it is learnt. In Ludhiana, the two parties will contest an equal number of seats.

Their main opposition in the elections will be the Congress . However, in Jalandhar the BSP will also be an important player. The BSP has influence in certain parts of Jalandhar city.

The elections are expected to be held in the second week of August.

Sources said the division of seats was decided at a meeting between local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia and SAD acting president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Kalia is the leader of the BJP’s legislature wing in the state assembly.

When contacted, Kalia confirmed the division of seats between the two coalition partners in the government.

Meanwhile, the top leadership of the BJP met here today to plan its strategy for corporation elections. Senior leaders of the RSS led by Manohar Lal were also present at the meeting, it is learnt. The RSS wanted that the BJP’s performance in the corporation poll should be as good as that in the last assembly elections.

The BJP had performed exceedingly well in the assembly elections as it had won 19 seats out of the 23 allotted to it.

The BJP MLAs and ministers have been told to recommend the names of only those candidates who were likely to win. The nomination of tainted persons as candidates will be avoided.


Roadways to get 300 new buses
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 16
To enable the people of Punjab to undertake comfortable journeys, the Punjab Transport Department is all set to strengthen its existing 1,200-strong Punjab Roadways fleet of buses by adding 300 buses to it.

Fifty of the 300 proposed buses will be air-conditioned and the passengers will not be required to pay extra for the facility, at least in the first phase of the introduction of the new vehicles. The department has already initiated the purchase process of new ordinary and AC buses.

Besides, the department was planning to induct nearly 400 conductors and drivers in Punjab Roadways to overcome the problem of staff shortage. The conductors and drivers will be recruited on an ad hoc basis.

“The SAD-BJP government has already provided jobs to nearly 100 persons on compassionate ground and we are going to recruit about 100 more whose family members or close relatives had lost their lives while performing their duties. Three hundred buses will be inducted in the Punjab Roadways fleet shortly. Though the fare of the new AC buses will be normal, we have sought the permission from the Finance Department for enhancement of the fare on a par with that being charged by private operators,” said Master Mohan Lal, Punjab Transport minister. He said people’s faith in the Punjab Roadways was increasing and PUNBUS buses were earning good revenue for the government.

Master Mohal Lal held certain officers and employees responsible for the huge revenue loss of about Rs 2,700 crore incurred by the Punjab Roadways so far. “Had some of the officers and employees run Punjab Roadways efficiently, there wouldn’t have been such a big loss. The fresh recruitment of drivers and conductors is aimed at improvement of services for passengers. The total cost of induction of 300 new buses would come to around Rs 47 crore,” he said.

The priority of the department, according to the minister, was to stop the practice of plying of illegal buses in Punjab. “No transporter who runs illegal buses will be spared. Due to stern steps taken by us, the daily income of the department has increased by Rs 6 lakh,” he said.


MC Poll
BSP to go it alone
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 16
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will go it alone in the elections to five Municipal Corporations of the state to be held next month.

Avtar Singh Karimpuri, state president of the BSP, stated this at a ‘jan sampark and chetna rally’ here yesterday adding that 35 per cent Dalits in Punjab looked towards the government for sops while Uttar Pradesh government, having 22 per cent Dalits, was introducing various schemes for the uplift of the weaker and downtrodden sections of society. He said the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government in the state had deceived the poor by purchasing their votes and luring them with cheaper slogans like the ‘atta-dal scheme’.


4 Amarnath pilgrims die as vehicle overturns
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 16
A Tavera car carrying six Amarnath pilgrims overturned this morning on the Jalandhar-Amritsar highway under Maqsoodan police station resulting in the death of four of them.

All persons, boarding the ill-fated car, belonged to New Delhi. Instead of taking a turn towards Bhogpur at the Pathankot chowk to reach Jammu, the driver, Ravi, went straight mistakenly and realised his mistake after reaching Beas.

At this, he took a U-turn to reach the Pathankot chowk but, on their way, the speeding car overturned near the milk plant as the driver lost control over the vehicle.

The deceased have been identified as driver Ravi, Ramesh Chand, Ravinder Singh and Anil.


APROs want demands met
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 16
The Punjab Assistant Public Relation Officers’ Association has urged information and public relation minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia to fill the posts of public relation officers (PRO) lying vacant in the public relation department.

Spokesperson of the association Jai Krishan Kashyap said no new recruitments had been made for the last several years and the department was now facing a shortage of staff.

The association stated that assistant public relation officers (APRO) should be promoted to fill the posts lying vacant. This would not put any extra burden on the state exchequer as the APRO's were already getting the same pay scale as that of the PRO's.

The association also demanded that there be a hike in the various allowances being given to the PROs and they be given cell phones.


Bajrang Dal bandh fizzles out
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 16
The bandh call given by the local unit of Bajrang Dal completely fizzled out today. The call was given in protest against police authorities for not registering a case against the activists of the Ambedkar Sena under Sections 295 A, 307 and 452 of the IPC.

Activists of the Sena had allegedly shown disrespect to Hindu deities at Dera Baba Fattu Shah Bibi Sahiba temple, Rahimpur, and pelted stones there to take forcible possession of it on July 11.

Activists of various Hindu organisations assembled in front of the Town Hall to take out a procession in the morning, but the heavy police force deployed by the administration did not allow them to do so.

Meanwhile, some activists of Bajrang Dal blocked traffic near Boothgarh on Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road. The police made a mild lathicharge to disperse the agitators.

Activists of Ambedkar Sena also blocked vehicular traffic at Adda Nasrala, near here in protest against the police for not arresting the activists of Hindu organisations who were allegedly trying to disturb the peace.

Activists of Dalit organisations led by Onkar Singh Jhamat, general secretary of BSP Punjab unit, burnt the effigy of Tikshan Sud, minister for medical education and research and forest in front of the civil hospital for his alleged support to Hindu organisations in the dispute.

SSP Anita Punj said that Jatinder Kumar, district vice-president of Bajrang Dal, his associates Jasbir Singh Sheera of Attowal and Rajinder Singh Jimmy of Chabewal had been arrested as a precautionary measure.


Postal Dept move worries residents
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 16
A number of NGOs, including the Consumer Movement, today expressed concern over the proposed closure of the sub-post offices on the DAV campus and in the Sahitya Sadan complex. Official sources said the step was being taken to cut down expenditure and fill vacancies in the main post office here.

Chairman and president of the Consumer Movement Sat Pal Khariwal and Sudhir Sethi, respectively, and member of the national executive of the Grahak Panchayat Hanuman Dass Goyal said the department of posts’ move to close down the two sub-post offices would affect hundreds of residents. The campus had DAV College, DAV College of Education, Gopi Chand Arya Mahila College and LRS DAV Senior Secondary Model School. The staff of these institutions had been parking money in small savings. Hundreds of students would be deprived of the facility of dispatching examination forms, etc, to the university and board offices, besides premier educational institutions.

DAV College had provided the building for the sub-post office free of charge while the Sahitya Sadan management charges only Rs 300 per month as rent for the accommodation provided to the sub-post office, they added.

Residents of Lajpat Nagar, Sunder Nagari, Thakur Abadi, old and new Suraj Nagari, Canal Colony and Model Town paid their BSNL telephone bills at the sub-post offices.

The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, the National Students Union and the Vidyarthi Parishad have condemned the department for the move.


Panel chief rues officers’ apathy
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 16
Chairperson of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Santosh Chowdhary has condemned the uncooperative attitude of government officers of the district at the alleged behest of chief parliamentary secretary Mohinder Kaur Josh.

Santosh told mediapersons at the local PWD Rest House today that she had informed the deputy commissioner, Hoshiarpur, through the chief secretary, Punjab, about her today’s visit to the areas where construction of toilets in private houses as well as in schools was being carried out under the Total Sanitation project sponsored by the Centre.

When she went to Simbli, Phuglana, Mehtiana and Bhungarni villages as part of his visit, she was astounded to note that no officer of the departments concerned was present there to explain her the progress of the project. She alleged that the officers did not turn up on the alleged instructions of SAD MLA Mohinder Kaur Josh.

She was dissatisfied with the progress of the project and the quality of the work, she added.


MC Vice-President Election
DC suspends resolution

Malerkotla, July 16
Acting on a report submitted by Dr Indu, ADC, Sangrur, Deputy Commissioner S.R. Ladhar has suspended a resolution passed by 11 councillors and associate members of the local municipal council regarding election of Sabran Bhapp, a Congress nominee, as vice-president of the council.

The decision has ended a political dilemma in which factions led by Congress MLA Razia Sultana had claimed that Bhapp had been elected vice-president of the civic body while SAD leader Abdul Gaffar said Kewal Krishan Jindal was the one.

Ladhar stated that resolution No. 133, declaring Bhapp as vice-president of the municipal council had been suspended as the inquiry had established that the democratic procedure had not been adhered to during the election process.

“Besides ignoring the condition of fulfilling quorum of the House, the authorities had failed to adopt the procedure required for conducting the election. Though 16 councillors owing alliance to the SAD-BJP alliance had been marked present, they were not allowed to cast their vote,” he said. — OC


Book highlights need to tackle bird flu threat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
Ajit S.Puri, a senior consultant with the Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, Ludhiana, has written a book, “Bird Flu: Countering the Terror.” He presented the first copy of the book to chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance Sonia Gandhi at her residence on Saturday.

Puri said the threat of bird flu is global. Human deaths were reported from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam during the past two to three years. The highest death toll was in Indonesia where 79 persons died. Out of 310 cases of bird flu, 188 have proved fatal the world over. First human death occurred in Hong Kong during 1997.

Bird flu infected wild birds may infect the entire flock and spread the disease further causing sudden death of a large number of birds initiating the bird flu epidemic.

Suggesting a way out in his book, Puri says unless the farmer is adequately compensated it is likely that he will hide early death of birds due to fear of culling and, thus, preventive measures are delayed.

This leads to chaos. Poultry business may be the only way of livelihood for many farmers.


Shops remain closed in Mukerian
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 16
Life in Mukerian town was thrown out of gear today following a bandh call by various Hindu organisations including Sanatan Dharam Temple Committee, Dhanoya, to protest against the district administration for pressing it to register a case against Bishan Singh, sarpanch of Dhanoya, under Section 295 A of the IPC, cancel the auction of temple land and dismissal of the village panchayat.

All shops remained closed in support of the demands of the temple committee. However, medical services were not affected by the bandh call.

Activists led by Shiv Nandan Sharma, president, Sanatan Dharma Temple Committee, Dhanoya, Shambhu Bharti, president, Punjab Youth Club, Jai Singh, president, Bharti Jan Shakti Party and Gurdip Singh, president, Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), staged protest marches in the main bazaars of the town.


Union prevents land auction
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 16
A large number of farmers, led by Lehragaga block president of the BKU (Ugrahan) Balbir Singh Jhaloor, today became instrumental in stopping the auction of the land of a farmer Leelu Singh at Ballran village near Moonak.

Leelu Singh, reportedly, owed Rs 3 lakh to an arhtiya from Jakhal Mandi in Haryana. Due to the non-payment of the amount, the land of Leelu Singh was to be auctioned today to recover the amount.

Balbir Singh Jhaloor said that when the arhtiya started taking part in the auctioning of the land, the angry farmers opposed it in a big way and compelled the arhtiya not to do so.

After this, the moonak tehsildar gave two opportunities, but the arhtiya declined to take part in the auction by saying that it was dangerous. The tehsildar stopped the auctioning of the land and went back. Jhaloor said they had already told the tehsildar that, as part of the policy decision of their union, they would not allow the auctioning of the land of the farmer.


Octroi woes continue in cantts

Ferozepur, July 16
Traders of the cantonments falling in the state are a harried lot. Despite the abolition of octroi in other parts of the state, these traders still have to pay huge sums of money towards octroi.

According to information, there are mainly three cantonments in the state with fairly large population of civilians - Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Amritsar. Though octroi was abolished by the previous Congress regime, these cantonments have to pay the same as they fall under the administrative control of the Centre.

The traders have demanded that the government immediately compensate the cantonment boards for the sum equivalent to the collection of octroi. They also demanded that till the time the octroi is abolished in the cantonments, the state government waive off VAT in these areas. — OC


‘Shiksha rattan’ for Bathinda resident

Bathinda, July 16
Social worker and educationist of this region Raj Gupta has been awarded “shiksha rattan puraskar” by the India International Friendship Society for her contribution in the field of education and social service.

Raj, who runs a private college here, was presented with the award at a function organised by the society in New Delhi recently. The Punjab government honoured her with state award in 1994 for her contribution in the field of blood donation and her crusade against social evils. She got Indira Gandhi NSS Award in 2003. — TNS


600 jhuggis razed in Ropar
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 16
Around 600 illegal jhuggis were razed here today. Around 400 to 450 jhuggis at Haveli Kalan village and 100 to 150 jhuggis in the locality between the bus stand and the secretariat were razed under a team headed by SDM Kavita Singh. The structures included liquor vends, kiosks.

While the land at Haveli Kalan belongs to the district administration, the other piece of land belongs to the defence department.


350 examined at medical camp
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
A medical camp was organised by Marian Health Centre, Kauli, here today. A. C. Varma, managing director of State Bank of Patiala, inaugurated the camp in which about 350 patients were examined by a team of doctors from Patiala, Rajpura and Ambala. The representatives of the bank distributed medicines to the patients free of cost.

The State Bank of Patiala has donated an LCD projector and a laptop to the Bosco Institute of Rural Development situated at Kauli for awareness programme in villages.

Dr Manjit Singh Bal, head of Pathology Department, Government Medical College, Patiala, delivered a lecture on diseases.

The chief guest expressed interest for this cause and reiterated the commitment for the development and awareness programmes in the rural areas in collaboration with social organisations.

A tree plantation campaign was also launched by A C Varma by planting a sapling in the institute. C S Jagdish, DGM, SBoP, and K S Jawanda, AGM, SBoP, Patiala Region also planted saplings.

A cultural programme by students of this institute was presented. Mala Varma, president of the SBoP Ladies Club, and other dignitaries were also present on this occasion.


Blood sugar testing camp

Patiala, July 16
HDFC Bank, Patiala, maintaining its old tradition of working for the social cause, organised a blood sugar testing camp for morning walkers of the Baradari Gardens here today.

Amit Gagneja, branch manager of HDFC Bank, said more than 100 morning walkers were examined in this camp. The morning walkers were also given hand towels, leaflets on morning walk and bottles of mineral water. — TNS


Engineer’s book wins first prize
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
‘Payavaran Chetna Andolan Ki Anivaryata’, a book on environmental pollution, authored by Dr Charanjit Singh Nabha, won the first prize in a programme organised by the Central Pollution Control Board.

Dr Nabha is working with the Punjab Pollution Control Board as assistant scientific officer and actively writes on various aspects of environment pollution.

The award, which carries a cash prize of Rs 2,000, will be given during the Hindi Day celebrations in September.


Tribune Impact
Signing of MoU by DFO with wife’s NGO

Punjab Govt initiates probe

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
Taking note of The Tribune report on former Hoshiarpur DFO R.R. Kakkar signing an MoU with the NGO headed by his wife, the Punjab government today initiated an inquiry into the matter.

Sources say that the Punjab forest secretary, in a letter to principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), today demanded explanation on five counts, including whether the DFO was competent to sign an MoU on behalf of the government.

The PCCF, while clarifying the position, has reportedly stated that the DFO was “not authorised to enter into such an agreement, without delegation of powers”, which incidentally now puts the DFO in the dock.

Interestingly, it was also revealed today that the roads which the DFO sought to be afforested through Sahyogi, the NGO chaired by his wife, do not belong to the Punjab Forest Department, as claimed in the MoU, entered into by the DFO.

The said land is actually owned by the Punjab government through its public works department (PWD), and the forest department only had management rights over the land. The road in question is the Balachaur-Hoshiarpur-Dasuya road, whose legal status was today ascertained by the Punjab government through the secretary’s letter to the PCCF.

The Tribune had, in its report yesterday, highlighted that the PWD department had already deposited crores as cost of compensatory forestation along the road for whose plantation DFO R.R. Kakkar, now posted at Ludhiana, signed the MoU.

This fact was confirmed today by the PCCF, which brought to the notice of the department secretary that about Rs 1 crore was available from the PWD for compensatory forestation and another Rs 5 crore towards net present value.

Sources say that the secretary also sought to know if Sahyogi had deposited any money with the government for carrying out afforestation work and if the DFO’s action amounted to any financial loss to the government or whether it was the action of a “public-spirited officer, along with his wife, to undertake bona fide social forestry”.


Surprise check on chemist’s shop

Patiala, July 16
Following the instructions of health minister Laxmikant Chawla, the Patiala civil surgeon and officials of the CIA conducted a surprise check on a chemist’s shop. The team seized a huge cache of drugs, which were being misused by the chemist.

The team, comprising district drug inspector and officials of the CIA staff, raided the godown of Satguru Medicos on Jhill Road, Tripuri, and seized 66 bottles of cough syrups, 3,900 tablets of Microlit, Nitrazepam, Alprazolam, 1,261 capsules of Spasmoproxyvon, Proxyvon and 220 injections of Buprenorphin.

All these drugs were being allegedly sold to drug addicts.

The owner of the shop is absconding. The seized drugs, after obtaining the relevant custody orders, are at present lying in the court of the CJM. — TNS


Hawala: Moga MLA detained

Chandigarh, July 16
MLA from Moga Joginder Jain was today detained on the order of the enforcement directorate. He was taken away by a team of the Punjab police from Punjab Bhavan in Sector 3 here.

SSP, Moga, Davinder Pal Singh Garcha confirmed the development and said that Jain had been detained for violation of the conservation of foreign exchange and prevention of smuggling activities (COFEPOSA) act, 1974. He had not been arrested, said the SSP, as the act only allowed detention.

The case against Jain, a first-time Congress MLA, pertains to 1988 and relates to hawala transactions. There was a stay order in the case which had now been vacated.

An order was received from the ED, which functions under the central government, on July 14 to detain Jain in the case, Punjab police officials confirmed. — TNS


NRI students made to shell out more
Rs 67,000 just for applying for medical course
under NRI category

Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
The Baba Farid University of Health Sciences has allegedly been fleecing students applying under the non-resident Indian (NRI) category. These students have to shell out Rs 67,000 for applying for the medical course in colleges of Punjab. The candidates who are residents of the state, but applying under the NRI category, have to pay the same amount.

They have made a representation to the government in this regard, a copy of which was provided to The Tribune.

They alleged that the cost of three-page application form for eligibility certificate is Rs 2,500 for postgraduate medical courses and Rs 1,000 for undergraduate medical courses. The cost of processing the eligibility of the candidates is $ 750 or Rs 31,000 for postgraduate courses and $ 500 or Rs 20,500 for undergraduate courses.

The eligibility certificate issued by the university is, in fact, equivalency certificate required to verify if a candidate from a foreign country applying had got the minimum marks required for taking admission in Punjab medical colleges.

However, the Baba Farid university is charging the amount for issuing eligibility certificate to the candidates who have passed from the Punjab School Education Board or CBSE, but are applying under the NRI category.

After the eligibility certificate, the student again has to apply for the course buying an application form worth Rs 3,000. Rupees 31,000 is charged as application processing fee taking the total cost of just applying for the course to Rs 67,000.

Thereafter, the university charges $ 1,000 or Rs 41,000 for registration of candidates selected under the NRI category for postgraduate courses and $ 500 or Rs 20,500 for undergraduate courses.

Again the amount is charged from the candidates who have passed MBBS from the Baba Farid University, but are applying under the NRI category. They allege that postgraduate candidates applying under the NRI category have to pay Rs 67,000 irrespective of the fact whether he gets admission or not. The undergraduate candidate also has to pay Rs 45,000.

The registrar, Baba Farid university, said there were three categories of NRI candidates applying in the state. They included NRIs from other countries, NRI-sponsored candidates and Indian candidates applying against them. A similar criterion has to to be followed for all candidates applying for NRI seats, he said.


Sunam dental college in dire straits
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 16
The authorities at Guru Nanak Dev Dental College and Research Institute, Sunam, today expressed their inability to admit students to Master of Dental Surgery (MDS) courses for the current academic session due to paucity of funds. The college has been facing a financial crisis following withdrawal of category III and IV of the NRI category seats by the state government and very low fee structure for MDS courses.

The authorities stated the college introduced the MDS courses in the session 2006-07 with the government fixing a fee of Rs 2.6 lakh per seat per annum and for an NRI seat $ 55,000. They had time and again represented that the fee was too low to run the courses and the fee structure in Punjab was the minimum in the country. In Haryana it was Rs 5.44 lakh and in Uttar Pradesh the fee for MDS courses was Rs 5.5 lakh per annum.

Director of the dental college Vikram Sharma said today that since the category III and IV had been withdrawn from NRI category seats by the state government, under the changed circumstances it was not possible to run postgraduate courses, those of MDS particularly, with the present reduced fee structure of Rs 1.5 lakh. The college authorities had to give the university and Dental Council of India (DCI) Rs 82,000 per student per annum as affiliation fee for inspection and administrative fund.

Dr Sharma said no NRI candidate joined category I and II as the Indian MDS degree was not recognised in most of the foreign countries.


Anganwari workers’ protest

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 16
The Punjab Anganwari Workers' Union has decided to intensify their agitation in support of their pending demands by holding protests across the state from August 7 to 15.

State president of the union Usha Rani said the protests were being organised on a call given by the All-India Federation of Anganwari Workers and Helpers. — TNS


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